Jump to content

Ned Ludd

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Engraving of Ned Ludd, Leader of the Luddites, 1812

Ned Ludd (/nɛd lʌd/)[1] is the legendary person to whom the Luddites attributed the name of their movement.[2]

In 1779, Ludd is supposed to have broken two stocking frames in a fit of rage. When the "Luddites" emerged in the 1810s, his identity was appropriated to become the folkloric character of Captain Ludd, also known as King Lud or General Ludd, the Luddites' alleged leader and founder.

Origin of the name Ludd[edit]

It has been claimed that the name "Ned Ludd" came from an "Edward Ludlam"[3] who was buried at St Mary's Church, Anstey.[4][5]


Supposedly, Ludd was a weaver from Anstey, near Leicester, England. In 1779, after either being whipped for idleness[6] or taunted by local youths,[7] he smashed two knitting frames in what was described as a "fit of passion".[8][9] This story can be traced to an article in The Nottingham Review on 20 December 1811, but there is no independent evidence of its veracity. John Blackner's book History of Nottingham, also published in 1811, provides a variant tale, of a lad called "Ludlam" who was told by his father, a framework-knitter, to "square his needles". Ludlam took a hammer and "beat them into a heap".[10] News of the incident spread, and whenever frames were sabotaged, people would jokingly say "Ned Ludd did it".[8][9]

By 1812, organised frame-breakers became known as Luddites, using the name King Ludd or Captain Ludd for their mythical leader. Letters and proclamations were signed by "Ned Ludd".[8]

In popular culture[edit]


  • The character of Ned Ludd is commemorated in the folk ballad "The Triumph of General Ludd". Chumbawamba recorded a version of this song on their 2003 album, English Rebel Songs 1381–1984.
  • The Fall's song "Ludd Gang" (the B-side to "The Man Whose Head Expanded") is about Ned Ludd.
  • Robert Calvert wrote and recorded another song "Ned Ludd", which appeared on his 1985 album Freq; which includes the lyrics:

    They said Ned Ludd was an idiot boy
    That all he could do was wreck and destroy, and
    He turned to his workmates and said: Death to Machines
    They tread on our future and they stamp on our dreams.

  • Steeleye Span's 2006 album Bloody Men has a five-part section on the subject of Ned Ludd.
  • The Heaven Shall Burn song "The Final March" has a direct reference to Captain Ludd.
  • Alt-country band the Gourds affectionately refer to Ned Ludd as "Uncle Ned" in the song "Luddite Juice" from their 2009 album, Haymaker!.[11]
  • The Scottish folk musician Alasdair Roberts sings of Ned Ludd in his song "Ned Ludd's Rant (For World Rebarbarised)" on his 2009 album, Spoils.
  • San Diego punk band the Night Marchers included a song called "Ned Lud" on their 2013 album Allez! Allez!.
  • Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy references Ned Ludd in the song "You'll Never Work in This Town Again" on their 2019 album, Office Politics.


  • Edmund Cooper's alternative-history The Cloud Walker (1973) is set in a world where the Luddite ethos has given rise to a religious hierarchy which dominates English society and sets carefully prescribed limits on technology. A hammer—the tool supposedly used by Ned Ludd—is a religious symbol, and Ned Ludd is seen as a divine, messianic figure.
  • The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, a steam-punk trilogy by Rod Duncan, describes a hypothetical world nearly 200 years after a successful Luddite revolution. The powerful and corrupt International Patent Office controls and restricts technological progress and Ned Ludd is given a similar status to Henry Ford in Brave New World.
  • The novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), by Edward Abbey, is dedicated to Ned Ludd.
  • Anne Finger wrote a collection of short stories titled Call Me Ahab about famous disabled historical and literary figures, which included the story "Our Ned" about Ned Ludd.
  • Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching (1985) was published by Ned Ludd Books. Much of the content came from the "Dear Ned Ludd" column in the newsletter of the group Earth First!.
  • In the 2013–14 comic book miniseries Superman Unchained, a terrorist group called Ascension opposing modern technology uses the image of Ludd in its broadcasts.[12]
  • The Luddites were the inspiration for the 1922 play The Machine Breakers (Die Maschinenstürmer) by the German playwright Ernst Toller.
  • Ned Ludd is a character in the 2011 novel The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss.


  • In The Blacklist's episode 8 of season 1, "General Ludd", an activist network that plans an attack on the US financial system is led by a man who calls himself General Ludd.
  • On the Disney Channel's Big Hero 6: The Series, there is a recurring character named Ned Ludd who lives in the woods and abhors modern technology.
  • On the Amazon Prime show Upload, Ludds are a group generally opposed to technology including, for some, the “upload” tech.
  • In 'Horrible Histories's episode 8 of season 4, the parody song "Luddites!" references Ned Ludd.


  • Ned Ludd (restaurant) in Portland, Oregon
  • The Ned Ludd, a craft beer pub on Friar Lane, Nottingham, is named after Ned Ludd.[13]
  • A popular bookstore/winebar in Antwerp, Belgium is called Luddites.[14]
  • A small craft winery in Botriver, South Africa is called Luddite. Their mission states "technology and mechanisation will never be a substitute for passion".[15]
  • The video game Starsector features a faction opposed to AI and advanced technology known as the "Luddic Church," with an extremist offshoot faction known as the "Luddic Path."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How to pronounce Ned Ludd". PronounceItRight. Retrieved 15 February 2024.
  2. ^ Chambers, Robert, ed. (1888). The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar. Vol. 1. London; Edinburgh: W. & R. Chambers. p. 357. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  3. ^ Boobier, Tony (2018). Advanced Analytics and AI: Impact, Implementation, and the Future of Work. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-119-39030-5. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  4. ^ "You say you want a revolution…". Leicestershire la La la. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  5. ^ "St. Marys Church (Anstey)". Colin Crosby Heritage Tours. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  6. ^ Hammond, J. L.; Hammond, Barbara (1919). The Skilled Labourer 1760–1832. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. p. 259.
  7. ^ Chase, Alston (2001). In a Dark Wood. Transaction Publishers. p. 41. ISBN 0-7658-0752-1.
  8. ^ a b c Alsen, Eberhard (2000). New Romanticism: American Fiction. Routledge. p. 43. ISBN 0-8153-3548-2.
  9. ^ a b Byron, George Gordon (2002). The Works of Lord Byron. Letters and Journals. Adamant Media Corporation. p. 97. ISBN 1-4021-7225-7.
  10. ^ Traill, H. D.; Mann, J. S., eds. (1902). Social England. Vol. V. Cassell & Co. p. 841.
  11. ^ Coe, Jonathan (20 January 2009). "The Gourds". The Daily Gamecock.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Snyder, Scott (w), Lee, Jim (p), Williams, Scott (i). "The Fall" Superman Unchained, no. 2 (September 2013). DC Comics.
  13. ^ "Ned Ludd, Nottingham". WhatPub. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  14. ^ "About us - Luddites Books & Wine - Luddites Books & Wine". luddites.be. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  15. ^ "Luddite". luddite.co.zag. Retrieved 18 April 2023.